Saga has returned and not a moment too soon. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' offbeat series made huge waves in the comic world, with several reprints on all issues, but a total of five reprints to date on issue #1 alone. Saga vol. 1 collected the story so far and was released two weeks before issue #7, the perfect lead time to get any new fans caught up before the series continued.
Issue #7 begins with a brief flashback sequence that adds context to Marko's childhood and his relationship with his parents before jumping back where we left off -- a very tense moment between Alanna, Marko, Grandma and Grandpa (Kiara and Barr, respectively) after they manage to hop aboard their spaceship. Hazel just kinda lays there but hey, she's a baby so she's allowed.
Once Marko establishes that his mother didn't kill Izabel, simply banished her to the nearest planet, he grabs his dad's magical helmet--sorry, crash helm-- opens a portal and jets off after her. Kiara follows him, leaving Alanna and Barr alone on the ship with Hazel. There's blatant hostility present in their interactions that shows just how deeply ingrained the hatred between their two races really is. It's easy to forget that, with the two star-crossed lovers defying that hatred with the very existence of their relationship and Hazel, so it drives the point home clearly. The tension isn't just between Alanna and Barr, though; Marko and his mother get into a heated argument right before an all-new, all-out horrendous creature almost stomps them flat. The Strand gave us nightmares, but I think a lot of readers, like myself, made the mistake of thinking she would be the most horrifying creature in this series. Not by a long shot.
There are brief interludes that show what's going on with a some of the other characters, but the story really focuses on the family in this issue. The dialogue is succinct and cuts to the point with every panel. It's a fast-paced read that manages to keep the excitement up without being rushed. There's revelations to spare in this issue, and even though it's impossible to figure out the overarching story (e.g. how everything turns out for Hazel and her family in the end), the sequence of events always keeps the reader guessing without feeling haphazard. That could easily be a problem considering how much happens in every issue, but it all flows naturally, if unexpectedly at times.
Easily the most innovative series to come out in 2012, the second volume starts off strong. Staples continues to deliver beautiful panels, interesting characters and a great sense of creature design. Vaughan is no stranger to iconic stories, but he's really outdone himself with this series. Maintaining readers' interest and excitement can be really difficult but I'm just as excited for Issue #8 as I was for Issue #2.
Go team Hazel.